The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members. Coretta Scott King

Who are you and what do you do?

One of the questions that I most often get asked at Not & Not Yet is:

“How do you actually help the community”  Or “How are the profits of the cafe used to help the community”

We are a registered charity with PBI status. We are a social justice enterprise.

What does that mean? We are here to serve the community of Warrandyte in whatever way that we can. Our purpose is to put the profits of the cafe back into the community.

What does this look like? We support asylum seekers with housing and employment. We support local families who are facing significant financial & emotional challenges by restocking their fridge, paying bills or supporting them with counselling & practical support. We support mental health by running a mind health support group fortnightly. We offer our venue free of charge for community group meetings like: Warrandyte Diary, Warrandyte Festival, Bendigo Bank , etc. And most importantly we make ourselves available to our community by being here 7 days a week.

To connect, to care and to do life together. We are much more than a retail space. 

“Our continued vision is to make a difference for good in the lives of the Warrandyte Community in whatever way we can”. 

It is very difficult to find language around how this happens as many of the people that we are helping are fragile and vulnerable and cannot have their stories told.  Some due to domestic violence and some due to privacy issues.

We help the community in a huge variety of ways.   Here are a couple of examples:

We fund the House of Hope which is on the property behind the cafe.  This is where we host asylum seekers and refugees by helping them find a place out of detention and into community.  We offer community, a place of belonging, opportunities for work and a rental history along with financial assistance with bills etc..

This is a picture of our dear dear friend Negethan who came through the House of Hope and our Asylum Seeker program.   Sitting with him is Flynn on of our volunteers who always supports the Asylum Seeker programme by volunteering for our Community Tamil Feasts.    You can read about Nigethans story here:  Click this Link

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There are many needs within the community of Warrandyte that we are told about or come into contact with in our daily job of serving coffee.  This could be helping move house, re-stocking a fridge and pantry if a family are struggling to put food on the table.  Paying a bill if someone is behind and about to have electricity cut off.  Finding out about a trauma or accident and popping in with soup and a meal to make sure they are doing okay?

If we are doing life with someone who has depression or who is suicidal, often isolation is a huge factor.  We will encourage them to come to the cafe for lunch of a coffee – just to get them out of the house.  We will of course pay their tab.

Tuesdays fortnightly we run a mind health group called Blur.  This is a peer led support group for people who are struggling with mind health issues or caring for someone with a mental health issues. Everyone is welcome.  It starts at 8pm.

As the Volunteer Coordinator at NNY I have the incredible job of looking after an amazing group of people.  Many are strong and fully functioning members of our community who have a desire to give back to the community by supporting our work by volunteering within the cafe and supporting our various events.

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Others are some of our communities most vulnerable.  Some of our volunteers are deaf, autistic, have Aspergers or downs syndrome.  Some are recovering from mental illness and abuse, some just find life very difficult to navigate.  We offer love, acceptance, equality and training.

We believe that everyone belongs and that everyone has a way to contribute.

I believe that some of our most valuable work is done by taking someones hand and walking with them through a difficult time in their life.  Offering them a place to feel safe and to contribute.  Giving them skills and confidence to navigate life.

In the volunteer programme I am partnering with incredible organisations like:

  • Epic Assist – who care for those with disabilities
  • Foundation House – which is a place that cares for the survivors of torture.
  • Interchange – a disability and support services group
  • And various VCAL educators who partner with us in helping educate and skill our youth.

Here are some testimonials from families we walk with: (names withheld in confidence)

“Blur is a gentle place of belonging.  A place to listen and to be heard”.

“She has made amazing progress, and we thank you for all the support you and your staff have given her to date. She is so very positive about her time at ‘Now and Not Yet’ and particularly enjoys being given the responsibility of helping with food preparation”.

“Her place at Not & Not Yet has given her a seat in the world and you wouldn’t need me to tell you how revolutionary it has been in her life”.

“Madeleine loves her work at the cafe – you can tell that by the smile on her face whilst she’s working as well as on her return home. It has definitely improved her quality of life as I feel it gives her not only great pleasure but a great sense of achievement and belonging.  That sense of Inclusion is golden and hard to come by.  She also loves the fact that she is working just like her sisters.  If Madeleine could talk, working at the cafe would be why Monday and Wednesday afternoons are highlights of her week”.    (Madelines family have given permission to use this.  M has acute autism and volunteers twice a week in the afternoon).

This is from Lisa who started off as a volunteer but who is now working for us as our apprentice chef:

“It was a steep learning curve for me and for all the staff in the cafe but they were wonderful and made me feel very welcome.  Everyone was so caring and helpful. At times some communication was difficult but everyone tried so hard to make me feel at ease and now it feels like home.  When I first started, Jack the chef took photos of the menu items and laminated them and posted them around the kitchen so that I could easily see what was needed.

This has been the most wonderful experience for me and I highly recommend the volunteer programme to others. I was never made to feel different or inadequate and have been supported and encouraged every step of the way”.

I hope that this has given you a broader understanding of what we do.  These are just few examples.

We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own. Cesar Chavez

Lisa Hunt-Wotton

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